South Korean economy grows 3.1 pct in 2017

South Korean economy grows 3.1 pct in 2017

The fourth largest economy in Asia grew at its fastest pace in three years last year.

South Korea’s economy grew at its fastest pace in three years in 2017, the central bank said Thursday, thanks to robust exports of tech products including semiconductors and growing consumer spending.

The world’s 11th-largest economy and fourth-largest in Asia expanded 3.1 percent last year, up from 2.8 percent in 2016 and the fastest since 2014’s 3.3 percent, the Bank of Korea said.

“Consumer spending showed moderate improvement while investments in construction and corporate infrastructure also rose significantly,” it said in a statement.

Production in the country’s manufacturing sector expanded by 4.2 percent last year – the highest since 2011 when it grew 6.5 percent.

Investment in corporate infrastructure jumped 14.6 percent – the fastest since 2010 – as local firms led by Samsung invested heavily to build or expand plants.

In 2016 Samsung Electronics – the world’s largest chipmaker – invested over 40 trillion won ($37.6 billion) on infrastructure, and it is reported to have invested far more last year.

Consumer spending also rose 2.6 percent in 2017 – the fastest pace since 2011.

In the fourth quarter the economy grew 3.0 percent year-on-year, the central bank added.

It earlier predicted that the country’s economy would grow 3.0 percent this year – in line with estimates by the IMF and OECD.

Vietnam imports just six passenger cars in first two weeks of 2018

Dealerships have been unable to meet new import rules implemented following a trade pact that started this year.

Vietnam imported just six cars with less than nine seats in the first 15 days of 2018, down 616.8 times from the same period last year.

In total, the country imported 60 completely built units (CBUs) in the first fortnight of the year, compared to 5,000 units in the same period last year, according to the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

This year’s imported automobiles have been valued at $5.6 million, falling from $116 million last year.

This drop in imports has been blamed on a new decree that was put in place on January 1, which car dealerships say is nigh-on impossible for them to adhere to.

The decree stipulates that traders should only be permitted to import automobiles if they can provide valid vehicle registration certificates issued by authorities from the countries of origin.

Original quality control certificates for each vehicle and letters of authorization regarding recalls of defective vehicles from the manufacturers are also required, along with copies of quality assurance certificates provided by the countries of origin.

Japanese auto manufacturers have decided to suspend exports to Vietnam following the stringent quality regulations.

Toyota has halted all production for export to the Vietnamese market, Nikkei said in a recent report.

The firm manufactures auto components in Vietnam, but imports of CBUs from Thailand, Indonesia and Japan account for around one-fifth of what it sells in the market, said the report.

Fellow Japanese giant Honda had previously planned to consolidate all production of its SUVs in Thailand to take advantage of a new tariff rule that also took effect this year to cut import tariffs for autos built and sold within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) from 30 percent to zero.

The company has since abandoned that plan, and production of vehicles intended for the Vietnamese market has been suspended since early January.

In a similar move, Mitsubishi Motors has suspended production in Thailand of its Pajero Sports SUV designed for the Vietnamese market, according to Nikkei.